OPINION: Transgender Military Members Should Be Allowed To Serve

Almost one year ago, the sound of cheers, champagne, and crying echoed across the US as the Obama administration repealed an outdated policy that barred transgender military members from serving in the military. Now, the streets are deathly quiet, and a looming shadow, otherwise known as Donald Trump, terrorizes the LGBTQ+ community. The jobs of more than 5,000 military members are in question as Trump announces, in a series of tweets, that current transgender military members would be discharged from the military, and new trans members wouldn’t be allowed to serve. Even if they aren’t discharged, since the government won’t help to pay for their gender reassignment surgery and medical care, many wouldn’t be able to continue without serious health risks. The reasoning behind this discrimination resides in the falsehood of “tremendous medical costs and disruption” that Trump claims is a problem for the American people.

By putting this policy in place without any basis, President Trump outlines a ruinous plan, supporting discrimination with almost no logical support. When the Rand Corporation studied four out of the 18 militaries around the world that allow trans members to serve, they found that none reported a negative change in readiness or cohesion in their troops, a stark contradiction to President Trump’s Twitter claims. Senator Tammy Duckworth, a retired army lieutenant who lost both her legs in Iraq condemns the bill. “When I was bleeding to death in my Black Hawk helicopter after I was shot down,” Duckworth said, “I didn’t care if the American troops risking their lives to help save me were gay, straight, transgender, black, white or brown. All that mattered was they didn’t leave me behind.”

While President Trump claims that the logic behind this policy is the amount of money taxpayers would have to give out to the military, the massive scale he has gone through is unreasonable. If he wanted to save money, he could ask trans members to pay for their surgery, which they already do if they aren’t in the military. And if the constant surgeries seem like a “distraction”, the same could be said for religious ceremonies, and spending time with family. And why would he prevent trans members from serving “in any capacity?” They could work off the field such as in the tech side of the military, which prevents them from being unavailable during a sudden attack. This would also allow them to get the surgeries that they need, without being a “distraction”. While all of these processes fix the issues that President Trump claims the military has, without the discrimination aspect, he hasn’t gone through with any of them. Instead, he makes a broad generalization without considering other options. The lengths that he has gone to show that this policy is about prejudice, not taxes.

The impacts that this policy has on trans people is very significant. If we allow soldiers to be separated from the military based on their being transgender, there’s nothing that’s preventing other businesses owners and schools from discriminating against the trans community.  We already have issues like this in Texas, with the controversy of business not building non-binary bathrooms, because of “expenses”. This new policy would only double the amount of hate the community gets, because when people see President Trump supporting these policies, they assume it’s not oppression because the president supports it. Discrimination isn’t the only issue. The money that these military members were getting, which supported their families, are now in question and if they are removed, they would have to give up years of their lives and move on to a new job. The years of training and sacrifice that they went through will never be rewarded through appreciation.

While this issue may seem far away, it’s more closer to home than we realize. The reason President Trump had support for this policy in the first place is because of people inside and outside of the military who are uneducated about the trans community. When we allow teachers to use birth names instead of the names that our trans classmates want, we foster an uncomfortable environment. By educating others about using the names that people want, even on military badges, we can allow the trans community to feel more comfortable. By supporting LGBTQ+ relations in the military, we allow couples to feel free in the country that they sacrifice their lives for. By preventing prejudice in our communities, we can send a message to President Trump that we won’t stand for these discriminating policies, and hopefully, just hopefully, the streets can be full of cheers again as Trump replaces his policy, giving freedom to the LGBTQ+ community once again.